Guthrie leads Daly, Uihlein on Day 1 of BMW Masters

By Doug FergusonOctober 24, 2013, 12:00 pm

SHANGHAI – Luke Guthrie took only 19 putts in his round of 7-under 65, giving Americans the top three spots on the leaderboard Thursday in the BMW Masters.

Only three Americans are in Shanghai for this European Tour event. And one of them is John Daly, playing for the first time in nearly four months since surgery to repair a torn tendon in his right elbow.

Equally surprising was Guthrie, a promising young American who is taking a break from the start of a new PGA Tour season because he wanted more experience in the growing world of golf. He showed plenty of game on a day of 30 mph wind – so difficult that only 13 players broke par.

''It was one of the better rounds I've ever played,'' Guthrie said.

Daly relied on knockdown shots to cope with the wind and kept bogeys off his card for a 68. One shot behind was the one American that could have been expected to contend at Lake Malaren – Peter Uihlein, a European Tour member who already has one win this year and is 10th on the money list.

Uihlein got off to a poor start, three-putting for bogey on the second hole and then hitting his approach into the water right of the par-5 third green, even though the wind was ripping from right-to-left. He rallied with six birdies for a 69, and maybe the timing was just a coincidence. He was on the tee at No. 7 when he heard the Boston Red Sox had won the opening game of the World Series, 8-1.

''I was 5-under the rest of the day,'' Uihlein said.

The wind was relentless and contributed to threesomes taking some 5 1/2 hours to finish.

Graeme McDowell, trying to chase down Henrik Stenson in the Race to Dubai, holed a 90-foot eagle putt on the 13th hole in his first tournament as a married man. McDowell was at 70, part of a group that included Paul Casey, Thongchai Jaidee and Wales Open winner Gregory Bourdy.

Rory McIlroy, equipped with a new golf ball, drove the ball beautifully in the blustery conditions and shot 71. Stenson opened with a 72.

Guthrie played the opening two events in the new PGA Tour season in California and Las Vegas, and then flew halfway around the world to China. He will return to America for two more events after this, so Shanghai seems a long way to travel for just one week of golf.

But the 23-year-old from Illinois was determined to travel, and he accepted a sponsor's exemption to the BMW Masters about a month ago.

''This is my first time over in China and Asia, and I just wanted to challenge myself to come travel abroad and get used to this, and just keep gaining experiences and get better at becoming a global player,'' he said. ''And it's nice to get off to a good start today.''

His first trip overseas was this summer to Scotland for the British Open, where he missed the cut but picked up at least one lesson.

''I kind of drink a lot of Mountain Dew to a fault, and couldn't find Mountain Dew,'' he said. ''I packed some, so I'm learning.''

More important than the caffeine-laced soda was his short game. Guthrie had about a 25-foot putt on the 10th hole when he realized it was the longest putt he had faced all day. And then he realized he had one-putted every green on the front nine.

What skewed the statistics was his three-hole stretch in the middle of the back nine that built some separation – a routine up-and-down for birdie on the par-5 13th, pitching a 25-yard shot over the bunker and into the cup for an unlikely birdie on the 14th, and then using the wind to hold up a flop shot from beyond the green at the par-5 15th. Once it landed, the ball ran toward the cup like a putt and dropped for eagle.

He closed with pars for a score that left some players wondering what course he was on. The wind was blowing across on most of the course, making it tough to get near the hole. The greens were fast and frightening, and crispy toward the end of the round. Uihlein said he couldn't recall faster greens on the European Tour this year.

''I've never witnessed wind like this in China,'' McIlroy said.

Coming off a tie for second in Korea last week, McIlroy was pleased with the quality of his golf. He threw away shots with three-putt bogeys, from 10 feet on the fourth hole and with a poor chip that led to a three-putt bogey on the easy par-5 13th.

''From tee to green, it was really solid,'' McIlroy said. ''It could have been better. But on a day like today, it's just good to keep yourself there, or thereabouts. Luke shot 65, but the next is 4 (under) and 3 and 2. So it's not too bad.''

DIVOTS: Joost Luiten hit a tee shot and then withdrew with a shoulder injury. The BMW Masters is the first of four events called the ''Final Series'' in the Race to Dubai. Players are required to play two of the three events leading to the final event in Dubai. Luiten's WD counts as a start. ... Six players failed to break 80. Defending champion Peter Hanson, who has had back problems all year, opened with a 79. Graeme McDowell's wife, Kristen, is an interior designer. Rory McIlroy raved about the work she did at his south Florida home. Asked if she was expensive, McIlroy smiled and said, ''It's not just GMac making the money.''

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Schauffele just fine being the underdog

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

“All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

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Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at golfodds.com.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Jordan Spieth: 7/4

Xander Schauffele: 5/1

Kevin Kisner: 11/2

Tiger Woods: 14/1

Francesco Molinari: 14/1

Rory McIlroy: 14/1

Kevin Chappell: 20/1

Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

Alex Noren: 25/1

Zach Johnson: 30/1

Justin Rose: 30/1

Matt Kuchar: 40/1

Webb Simpson: 50/1

Adam Scott: 80/1

Tony Finau: 80/1

Charley Hoffman: 100/1

Austin Cook: 100/1

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Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 7:49 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.

For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.

By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.

But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.

As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.

“This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”

Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.

As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.

After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.

“I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”

But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.

Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.

“I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think it's going to be a true test, and we'll get to see really who's hitting it the best and playing the best tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.

There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.

Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par. 

And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.

As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.

“We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”

Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.

Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.

The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.

Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.

It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.

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Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

“I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”